Sam Houston High School.
Sam Houston High School is among the campuses SAISD is seeking improvements through a bond. Renovations include overhaul or replacement of athletic facilities. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Come Fall 2019, Sam Houston High School in San Antonio Independent School District will operate a new school-within-a-school focused on cybersecurity education.

Cyber P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) at Sam Houston High School will be the city’s first P-TECH campus and aims to open with a class of 150 freshmen.

The P-TECH program is a national, industry-specific educational model the State Legislature approved for use in Texas schools in 2017. The model allows students to earn a high school diploma, associate degree, certifications, and obtain work-based training in specific career fields over a span of four to six years.

There are more than 30 P-TECH schools in Texas, with the majority concentrated in Dallas ISD. An additional 28 schools are listed on the Texas Education Agency’s website as being in the planning process for next year.

SAISD will partner with St. Philip’s College and Accenture Federal Services, a national company that serves business clients in a number of industries, including cybersecurity. Other partners include DC Industries, MIMS Institute Fellows, and Tech Skills on Wheels. The district is still working to sign up additional partners.

“As an industry partner, we want to help build tangible programs that provide students internships and apprenticeships to advance their industry-relevant skills and provide on-the-job training,” said Benjamin Peavy, managing director of Accenture’s San Antonio office.

The school will open in 2019 with a freshman class and grow with an additional class each year, topping out at an estimated 600 students. Cyber P-TECH will be a choice option in SAISD, with first preference given to students in the nearby community, then to SAISD students, and finally to those outside the district.

SAISD plans to operate the new program through a blended model, where students can take dual credit-courses at Sam Houston and St. Philip’s College, Superintendent Pedro Martinez said.

Adding Cyber P-TECH to the Sam Houston campus will provide greater opportunities for students from the East Side to succeed in new fields, Martinez said.

“Technology is one of the fastest growing industries in San Antonio, in Texas, nationwide,” Martinez said. Industries “can’t fill the jobs, and what I want is for our children, especially on the East Side… to see themselves in these jobs.”

Sam Houston Principal Mateen Diop agreed, noting that cybersecurity touches every industry and company, making potential jobs after graduation plentiful.

“Cybersecurity is really just protecting your information, in a nutshell,” Diop said. “Every company, every organization has cybersecurity. There is not one that does not have cybersecurity.”

SAISD already operates a number of technology-specific and early college programs such as CAST Tech High School or Travis Early College High School. Cyber P-TECH will differ by narrowing its focus on cybersecurity, Martinez said.

At early college high schools, students typically get associate degrees in liberal arts areas, but at Cyber P-TECH they can earn an Associate Degree of Applied Science in Information Technology Cybersecurity Specialist.

Students at Cyber P-TECH will also have access to extracurricular activities at Sam Houston High School, whereas students at CAST Tech or other early college schools often forgo those kinds of activities to attend their specialized school.

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.